August 16th, 2009
07:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #209: Go west, young man

Reporter's Note: Sometimes I wonder if any president can really satisfy a country of 300-million people. That’s a lot of folks, a lot of opinions, and almost certainly a lot of people who will disagree with you no matter what you do. Fortunately, he’s got me to write a generally agreeable letter every day.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A western swing! Excellent idea. I love the west. Wide open spaces, big skies, buffalo and jackalopes. I think I’ve mentioned before that I lived in South Dakota as a kid, and Colorado as an adult. Doesn’t get any prettier, and I can’t think of a better place to recharge your batteries.

But that’s me. You, on the other hand, may notice a somewhat different political air out west, and I think there is a practical reason for that. Just have the CIA, or the Pentagon or some other intelligence types run over one of those nighttime satellite shots of North America, and you can see why. In the east you will see endless miles of lights, but once you pass the Mississippi River, not so much.

Years ago I read a study that said the river is a dividing line between people who generally hold the federal government in a positive light (the easterners,) and those who don’t (the westerners.) I can’t recall much about that study, and who knows if it is valid, but it makes sense. In more crowded parts of the country, where people naturally are running up on each other all the time, the idea of more rules, more standards, more government involvement makes sense. Kind of like a traffic cop on a busy downtown street.